He was born in Pennsylvania, of Ukrainian descent and son of a coal miner. Palaniuk worked in the coal mines until the 1930’s when he started a career as a professional boxer. Using the professional name Jack Brazzo, Vladimir Palaniuk won 15 consecutive matches — 12 by knockout — until losing his 16th by decision.
World War 2 came knocking about that time; Vladimir joined the Army Air Corp and began training as a B-24 pilot. During training, an engine failed on his plane, and he suffered severe facial injuries and burns during the bail-out process. He required extensive plastic surgery — resulting in a distinctive gaunt look — and was discharged from the US military in 1944.
Not one to mope, Vladimir graduated from Stanford University in 1947 with a B.A. in Drama and pretty much instantly wound up on Broadway. Three years after his Broadway debut, Vladimir Palaniuk was discovered by Hollywood.
Not content with a commanding screen presence, Palaniuk painted and sold landscape art, wrote and published poetry, spoke Ukrainian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, French and English.
Most folks knew him as Jack Palance. May he rest in peace.